The difference between steam cleaners and carpet cleaners

Updated April 17, 2017

Two kinds of steam cleaning can be used in your home. Steam cleaners use the power of pure steam to blast away dirt and grime from a variety of hard surfaces such as tile and countertops, and with the proper attachment they can be used to freshen carpet. There is also a particular method of carpet cleaning known as steam cleaning. Though the terms are often used interchangeably, steam cleaning and steam carpet cleaning are not the same thing.

Misconception About Steam Carpet Cleaning

Steam carpet cleaning is a misnomer, because no steam is used to clean the carpet. A more accurate name of the process is hot water extraction.

How Steam Carpet Cleaning Works

A cleaning wand with a spray nozzle positioned about an inch in front of a vacuum head is used to inject hot water into a carpet. The fast-acting, hot-water-based cleaning chemical blasts dirt from deep within the carpet seconds before the powerful vacuums pull the moisture and debris from the carpet.

The steam carpet cleaning machine consists of vacuum and pump motors mounted inside a canister. The unit has compartments for clean solution and waste water.

How Steam Cleaning Works

A steam cleaner uses no chemicals, only the power of steam to clean. The process is ideal for hard surfaces that can be blasted with steam from the end of nozzle. Dirt and grime are loosened from surfaces as pressurised steam whisks by. A portion of the steam turns to water, necessitating a towel to wipe away the excess moisture.

Carpeting and soft fabrics can be cleaned with an attachment that employs a soft cloth, known as a bonnet, to act as a buffer between the direct shot of steam and the fabric. The bonnet glides over the carpet as steam is emitted through the cloth. Surface stains are absorbed by the bonnet.

Benefits of Hot Water Extraction

Hot water extraction is recognised as a deep-cleaning method. Dirt and debris trapped in the carpet fibres are removed with this method of cleaning. The Shaw Industries Group, Inc, one of the world's largest carpet manufacturers, recognises hot water extraction as the preferred cleaning and restoration method of carpet cleaning.

Benefits of Steam Cleaning

Steam cleaning offers the most benefits when cleaning hard surfaces. Without the use of harsh chemicals, steam cleaning removes dirt and soil from tiles and other hard surfaces. You can freshen the surface of a carpet with steam for interim cleaning.

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About the Author

Thomas Ferraioli began writing in 1993. His work has been featured in national publications like "Parents" and "U.S. Catholic." Ferraioli owns a cleaning service and is a Catholic youth minister. He holds a bachelor's degree in communications and business from Seton Hall University and was a recipient of the Pope John Paul II Award from the Archdiocese of Newark, N.J. for his work with youth.